Theatrical Arts International, manager of San Bernardino's California Theatre of the Performing Arts, is expanding westward.
Theatrical Arts' co-producers, Joseph Henson and Allen Evenson, have been producing shows for the California Theatre since 1997.
This season, their shows will be staged at Ontario's Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium as well as the historic California Theatre.
"Doing shows in other venues is a common thing we do," said Henson, adding that the production company does national tours in 60 U.S. cities.
"Actually, the cost of national tours is less when you're doing them in more than one theater," Henson said.
But producing shows in nearby Ontario is the first time the San Bernardino-based production company has shared so close to home.
Back in 2004, the company produced shows at the California Theatre along with the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
Built in 1937, Spring Auditorium, with its 2,000-plus seating capacity, is the largest venue in the largest county in the country, according to Dave Masterson, director of the auditorium.
"It's very smart of Joseph and Allen to bring these shows to the Gardiner also," he said. "If people want to go back and see a show again -- they can. It is a win-win."
The two audience circles overlap, with the Gardiner's extending to the east and the California Theater's extending west, Masterson said.
"As promoters, they are taking a risk, but they have a great track record with good, proven shows," he said.
Productions to be shared by the two theaters are "Direct from Vegas: The Rat Pack Christmas" in December; "Frankenstein" in February; "Les Miserables" in March; and "The Queen Experience" in May.
Most shows will run just a few days apart in each theater's schedule.
"Ontario is a good city and Gardiner Spring does its own shows, so this market is expanding exponentially," Henson said.
Henson and Evenson have worked with some of California's top musical theaters, including the Wilshire Theater in Beverly Hills, San Bernardino's Civic Light Opera, the San Gabriel Civic Light Opera and the Civic Light Opera of the South Bay Cities.
The pair have produced and directed a variety of national and international tours, including "Caution: Men at Work Tap," "Micado," "HMS Pinafore" and "Pirates of Penzance."
Bringing shows to both the Ontario and San Bernardino venues reaffirms Henson's philosophy in attracting top shows to the California Theatre.
"Our goal is to try to bring as many better and bigger Broadway productions to San Bernardino as we can." he said. "We love San Bernardino and look forward to working in San Bernardino for a long time."
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